Saturday, August 16, 2008

Practice Approaches Go Bump!

I needed to get some practice since it has been a few weeks since my last lesson and we all know how rust quickly develops on skills not in use. I gave Jeff (Jeffs Flying Web Page) a call and decided we would meet at Delaware Airpark, yes I am finally going to land at DAP, a private joke that I finally laid to rest. The call to FSS was short and sweet conditions improving by 1300 Zulu time, that's 9am for you land lovers. No Flight Restrictions to worry about and wx clearing as the day goes on, at least that was the forecast.

It was cool this morning as I uncovered 679er with a light breeze. I ordered fuel since we left the tanks below the tabs after our return from Ocean City. Preflight completed I call clear prop and 679er awakens, we are both itching to get some air time. My call for taxi clearance has me heading to the usual runway two seven at taxiway Mike. I comply, followed by my run up and call to the tower after switching the radio to the tower on 126.0. I am cleared for take off and approved for my turn south on course.

I guess about seven miles or so south of Wilmington I pick up flight following with Dover Approach. I dial in the squawk code and keep a look out for Delaware Air Park, 33N. About ten miles out I can make out the runway and the familiar landmarks surrounding the airport. There is traffic inbound so I make my position report and state intentions. I will overfly the field and reposition for a 45* entry to the left downwind on runway two seven. I cross midfield and start my descent banking around to my right and entering on a three mile 45* for the down wind. I know the winds can be tricky here and there is always a dip as you cross the power lines followed by the crosswinds being blocked by the tress to the north. I'm running it all through my mind as I power back to 1500 rpm and add a notch of flaps. Landing checks are complete as I slow for my base turn. Clear right of any traffic and I add in the second notch of flaps. Still slowing down to 65 knots and once across the power lines I add the last notch of flaps and make an ok landing, my concentration broken by some stall horn. I retract the flaps and let 679er roll out to the last exit saving my brakes and enjoying the view. I call clear 27 and taxi to the terminal.

Jeff and I climb aboard as I run through my checks. The plan is to head to Millville, KMIV and shoot the GPS 32 approach. We taxi out and I announce crossing two seven where I will perform my run up. Once we are ready to go we have the chance to witness some of what I like to call "stupid pilot tricks". We have been monitoring two aircraft inbound, one crossing midfield to enter the left down wind and another shooting an approach for runway nine that said he was going missed off to the left. Ok quick mental picture here, his heading is 090* so breaking off to his left would put him on the north side of the airport, right?. I think this guy need to make the letter L with his left hand and hold it to his forehead, this would have assured he was indeed stepping to the left and, since he went right instead he could use the hand/letter configuration for looser, what a nitwit. It gets better, oh, how so you ask? The Bonanza is now on the downwind and the plane that doesn't know left from right is at the Bo's 7:00. I call out on the radio that they are right on each other and they both wiggle wings and look, thankfully they now see each other. Meanwhile Jeff and I are sitting at the hold short taking it all in. It still gets better, how so you ask? The "lefty" plane turns base and the Bo also turns base. Ok, this is looking interesting. "lefty" lands and the Bo is still coming, he touches down while the first plane is still rolling out. The Bo pulls in the reins and turns off at the same time "lefty" does. I make my call that we are departing runway 27 and add, now that the show is over. I secretly hope this is not an indication of things to come.

We depart on the downwind and make for Millville. Jeff spots a C-17 taking off from Dover AFB and suggested we should pick up flight following, I agree and make the call. Ok, we now have an extra set of eyes for our Delaware Bay crossing. I brief the GPS 32 for Millville and get set up. The wind is pushing pretty good from the north so I need to keep in about a ten degree correction to hold course. My altitude was looking good, nice and steady. About 5 miles out of the initial approach fix LAYIB I configured 679er for 90 knts and one notch of flaps. Nice and steady, we cross LAYIB and turn on a 120* course for a teardrop entry. At the 4 mile mark I turn inbound and follow the 326* course. I must not have hit the hold sequence button since the GPS did not wait for me to reactivate once inbound, I'll have to work through this. Millville radio asked that I report the Final Approach Fix ZUNIE when inbound, I complied. Once crossing ZUNIE it is 5.7 miles to the missed approach point runway 32 and the decision height is 381 feet. I removed the foggles at 400 feet and configured to land. I have been having problems landing after removing the foggles and then placing my glasses back on, it seems to be a depth perception thing as if trying to refocus. I land flat after flaring way to high and immediately go around. Ugh, not happy. I reenter the pattern and manage a C grade landing. We taxi back and I decided enough hood work, I need some landings.

We are soon in the air once again now pointed towards Cape May. Traffic is light but do make a visual on a north bound aircraft below us. I announce my positions as we overfly the field and take up a heading for a picture shoot over the Cape May Lewes ferry. I position for a left downwind entry for runway two eight and get us on the ground in one piece, this landing is a also a C grade. We taxi in so I can make a pit stop and Jeff can get some air, he is battling an upset stomach and the bumps are not making things any better for him. Jeff said he has a sic sack just in case and my face must have went blank. I'm not sure I can land this bird with someone hurling, he assured me he could hold it back. We both laughed but I did not want to even think about it. Jeff decided he was good to go so we saddled up and headed to 33N. I followed the NJ coast of the Delaware Bay and once north of Dover I turned west to cross. I was on with flight following and had to look for one call out crossing left to right a few miles of our nose at the same altitude. Jeff made contact on our traffic and I advised Dover. About 7 miles out I cancelled flight following and set up for a straight in on 27. Jeff reminded me about the squirley winds at 33N but I had that stored in memory from this morning. Altitude now about 500 feet and making our way in I clear the power lines and pull back the power. We fly through the "dip" and get behind the tree line when I need to add a touch of power for a B grade landing, the stall horn even sang a tune longer then I am accustomed to.

Once I was at a full stop Jeff hopped out. I thanked him for the safety pilot time and apologized for him feeling so bad. I taxied out and took off, heading north back home to Wilmington. I got a straight in for runway 1 and of course with no passenger make the first grade A landing of the day. After all the practice today one would hope I nail it once in awhile. 3 hours in the log and some good practice holding heading and altitude in the bumps. I will admit I felt behind the plane on my landings, the worst after taking off the foggles.
I did have fun, Jeff is a great pilot and even though feeling sick, a good co-pilot. We have fun flying and I hope we can log more flight time to keep our IFR skills sharp. Thanks for the great Pictures Jeff. Check out Jeff's Flying web page at

Todays totals: 3 hours logged, 5 landings

No comments: